There are certain events in the Mancunian calendar that I consider to be totally unmissable. Didsbury Beer Festival is one of them, and whilst beer festival cynics (and it saddens me that these people even EXIST) may claim that such an event is essentially a cold, drafty tent full of people of a certain age wearing anoraks, I would like to temper this slightly by pointing that the tent is practically on my doorstep and is filled with lots of lovely beer and that, actually, that's a pretty nice coat I'm wearing. This year's festival is, unbelievably, the 7th; I have attended them all except one, and it was a pretty major trauma that kept me from going that year - the embarrassing number of Didsbury Beer Festival branded pint glasses in my kitchen bears (beers?) testimony to my devotion to this particular cause.
Last night was the first of the three-day festival, and I paid a flying visit to sample a couple of ales and conduct a bit of a recce ahead of a more serious assault on the Saturday sessions. There seems to be more beers than ever, many of them local - I had a half of Ginger Marble from Manchester's Marble Brewery (I always start with this as it's one of my favourite ever beers: a big, spicy, swaggering beered-up version of the cockiest gingerbread man imaginable) and then a half of Funky Banana from Holmfirth's Nook Brewhouse (terrible name; great beer - light, refreshing and slightly sweet).
The festival is on again tonight between 6 and 11pm (entry £5) and tomorrow between 12 and 5pm (£3 entry) and 5 and 11pm (£4 entry). There is live music both nights and always a lovely atmosphere - it's also obligatory to have a portion or two of chicken curry and chips from the legendary St Catherine's hatch in order to soak up all that beery goodness. The full beer list is available on the DBF website and there is also a pretty good selection of ciders and perries for anyone who didn't make themselves ill on cider for their 18th birthday and not been able to face it since. I will be spending my time until Saturday afternoon persusing my copy of the beer brochure and idly circling the ones I want to try whilst pondering my generosity - over the last six years Didsbury Beer Festival has raised over £75,000 for local charities. This year's deserving causes are Visioncare and The Wellspring, both offering help to homeless and other vulnerable members of society - so really, it's our duty to go along and drink beer. See you there...
- Didsbury Beer Festival is at St. Catherine's Social Club, School Lane, Didsbury, Manchester M20 6HS until Sat 1st November.